Multiple Intelligences and the Classroom

So, we already know that Howard Gardner theorized that there are different types, or modalities, of intelligence.  People have varying levels of the different types of intelligence, and as a result, have different preferences for how they learn and show what they’ve learned.

We know from this theory that it is important to present information to students in different ways, so that students have a greater chance for success in learning that information.  But it is also important to give students a choice in showing what they know. [1]  Therefore, when students are completing assignments and projects, whether in the library or in a classroom, giving them options for how they would like to share their work will allow more students to be successful in that assignment.

Perhaps, for example, students have been studying animals in science class.  They have developed research questions about their chosen animals, and have come to the library to use a database to search for more information on those animals.  After they finish their research, the teacher would like them to share what they’ve learned with the class.  This is an opportunity to give students choice.  Students with higher linguistic intelligence may want to write a traditional report, or use an online tool such as Voki that allows them to orally present their information.  Students with higher spatial intelligence, on the other hand, may want to do something more visual, like a PowerPoint or Glogster.  Students who have higher musical intelligence might choose to write a poem or song, while students with bodily/kinesthetic intelligence may want to build a model, or create a game to show what they have learned.

Students learn differently, based on the areas in which they have higher intelligence, and allowing them to choose how to show what they have learned gives them more opportunity for success in the classroom.

References

1. Big thinkers: Howard Gardner on multiple intelligences. (1997). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-video

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences and Education

So, as previously discussed, the theory of Multiple Intelligences, proposed by Howard Gardner in the 1980s, suggests that rather than intelligence being one single ability, there are different types, or modalities, of intelligence.  People can be smart in different ways, whether they have strong verbal intelligence, musical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, or any of the other types of intelligence proposed by Gardner (currently, there are nine).  But how can this theory be applied to education?

While everyone has some level of intelligence in each of the different categories, students are certainly stronger in some areas, and teachers have taken this knowledge and used it to both individualize and pluralize their instruction. [1]  Teachers can use their knowledge of their students, and how they best learn, to create more individualized instruction, or, at the very least, come up with a number of different choice for students when it comes to completing assignments or projects.  Additionally, teachers can teach a topic in a number of different ways, such as showing a video, teaching students a song, having students create a model, and having students take notes; this pluralization allows a larger number of students to grasp the concept being taught. [2]

It is important, though, before diving into individualized instruction and using strategies that correspond to certain intelligences, to give students the opportunity to explore a variety of experiences in order for them to figure out their preferences. [3] This could be done by creating learning centers and having students participate in each of them; in addition to allowing them to explore how they learn best, it also allows for reinforcement of a skill or concept in multiple ways.

The theory of Multiple Intelligences helps teachers diversity instruction, but it also helps students understand themselves and others, develop study skills that work for them, and validates their natural talents.  It definitely has value when applied to education, including the library.  Stay tuned for more on that.

References

1. Gardner, H. (2013). Frequently asked questions-Multiple intelligences and related educational topics. Retrieved from http://multipleintelligencesoasis.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/faq.pdf

2. Christodoulou, J.A. (2009). Applying multiple intelligences: How it matters for schools today, 25 years after its introduction by Howard Gardner. The School Administrator, 66(2). Retrieved from https://www.aasa.org/schooladministratorarticle.aspx?id=3448

3. Scholastic. (2014). Adapting instruction to multiple intelligences. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/adapting-instruction-multiple-intelligences

Howard Gardner and Multiple Intelligences

So, I thought I’d bring this blog out of hibernation in order to write some things for a class I’m taking this semester on motivating 21st century learners.

One of the goals of the class is to learn about a number of important educational theorists and their impact on teaching and learning; one of these people is Howard Gardner.  Gardner, a professor at Harvard, has spent the last few decades working on a number of things in the field of education, including designing performance-based assessments, interdisciplinary education, and using multiple intelligences to create more personalized curriculum and instruction.[1]

The theory of multiple intelligences is probably what Gardner is most known for; this theory suggests that rather than intelligence being one single ability, there are different types, or modalities, of intelligence.  People have different intellectual strengths, and these play an important role in “how people represent things in their minds, and then how people use them in order to show what it is that they’ve understood.” [2]

When Gardner originally posited this theory, he said that there were seven different intelligences; as of now, people currently think there are nine, including visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential intelligences.  More detailed descriptions can be found here.

Why is this important to education?  Well, with our current emphasis on standardized testing, the intelligences being assessed are generally only verbal-linguistic and logical-mathematical.  Since kids learn differently, and there are, at minimum, 7 other ways for them to think about things and show what they’ve learned, both instruction and assessment need to evolve to meet the needs of all kids.  Teachers have been, and need to continue to, move away from lectures and memorization to more diverse teaching methods, to project-based learning and assessments that don’t just focus on language arts, math, and filling in multiple choice bubbles.  More on how this can be done next time.

References

1. Biography of Howard Gardner. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://howardgardner.com/biography/

2. Big thinkers: Howard Gardner on multiple intelligences. (1997). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-howard-gardner-video